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October 1, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, The Harvester Center, Harvester Avenue, notify.

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On Aug. 10, business owner Rob Credi was happy and thankful to be celebrating the two-year anniversary of Pub Coffee Hub at Harvester Center.

That is, until he saw a road crew tearing up the street alongside of his thriving coffee shop. That date now marks the beginning of an agonizing blow to the clientele and successful business that Credi had built up those last two years. While other road projects have seemed to move along swiftly, Harvester Avenue has lagged behind as a bumpy, torn up hindrance to motorists and the businesses they're trying to visit, he says.

“Look at the other streets; they’re milled and ready to be paved. Our street is a graveyard of a street; it’s not drivable, there are potholes, lots of cement. On Aug. 10 they started digging, and three to four weeks later they never touched anything," Credi said during an interview with The Batavian. "I spoke to the contractors who dug it up, and they were going to come back. I’ve seen a significant drop in business. It’s the planning, execution and the quality of work that’s got my blood boiling.”

Slow work zone
It pains him to think about the lost revenue -- "you know, money that should have been coming in." 

"I'm gonna write that off, I'm never gonna see those dollars, it's just a lost cause. So really, my focus is just, however long this is gonna take, can we clean up the road and make it more serviceable for customers ... and maybe put a little fire under their butts to make it more of an urgent project to try to finish, kind of minimize the danger of moving forward."

After being patient for more than a month, Credi finally reached out to City Council and management.

“The purpose of this e-mail is to bring to your attention the devastating effect the current Harvester Ave. roadwork project is having on businesses, specifically Pub Coffee Hub. It is my understanding that this has been a project in the works for a couple of years. I have been a tenant in The Harvester Center since August of 2020 and from that date until August 10th of this year was not once invited into a conversation regarding the project and the inevitable consequences my business would suffer because of it,” Credi wrote in an email to council members and City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “If not for the good fortune of having a direct line to the new Director of Public Works, we would have been 100 percent in the dark about everything at that point. Let's not forget the 2-3 days where Harvester Ave. was completely blocked off at Main Street. How do you think businesses on our street did that day? Does anyone care? Yes, there was a surprise pipe issue needing immediate attention. What wasn't a surprise was, yet again, zero communication from the city and zero plan to address those that depend on the availability of traffic down the road while it was being repaired.”

When talking to The Batavian, Credi shared concerns about the business he has lost so far — a 42 percent dip in revenues, and that was after experiencing growth of nearly 35 percent this last year. A big sticking point for him is the seeming lack of thought about the actual entities on Harvester Avenue as plans were made for the road project itself. This week alone, contractors dug a ditch directly in front of a parking lot across the street, and posted a sign announcing the road was closed to all except local traffic.

“And at no point did anyone reach out to any of the businesses in the harvester center, or even a building manager to address 'hey, here's what's gonna be happening, here's what's happening.' Obviously, this is going to affect your businesses,” he said. “It would have been nice of them to be proactive and say, here's what we propose we can do to help alleviate some of that stress, or solicit feedback from us on ‘what we can do to make it less debilitating to businesses while it's going on.’ So that's the one issue that they had plenty of time to address. They never did.”

Untimely timelines
His plea reaped some sympathizers, as council members John Canale, who owns a drum studio at Harvester Center, Patti Pacino and Tammy Schmidt, who represents that area’s Sixth Ward, agreed that it wasn’t a good situation. Tabelski responded with an outline of work to be done in the city, including Harvester Avenue.

Tabelski had spoken to Department of Public Works Director Brett Frank, and “learned that he has been communicating with you and the owners of the Harvester Centre on a regular basis to keep you updated on the construction project,” she said in an email to Credi, adding that Frank will continue to provide updates and “we are hopeful that we can get the street project completed as soon as possible.”

She and others walked along Harvester recently and found deteriorated concrete base pavement that has turned to rubble, and the area will need to be replaced with concrete base pavement prior to any paving being done, she said to Credi.

The Batavian also reached out to council members and Tabelski. The city manager replied with a timeline and scope of the Harvester project. “The project continues to progress and the City is hopeful that the Harvester Ave. project will be finished by December 14th or sooner,” she said.

So that means it could be done anywhere from one to three months from now. Credi had not been given that date, however, he was told that contractors had up to six months to do the necessary work. But he certainly didn’t think it would take that long, he said.

“The City is not looking to put any undue burden on businesses or residents along Harvester Ave. and we are very optimistic that the new street will be a tremendous improvement,” Tabelski said. “We appreciate the patience across the city as we have been able to resurface many streets during this construction season.”

Schmidt responded to The Batavian's call for comment texting that she would send an email when she was able. Bialkowski's reply referred the matter to the city manager since it's "a contractual" issue. No other council members responded. As part of city protocol, council members approve resolutions, contracts and projects related to city business.

Undue burden
Credi and fellow Harvest Center business owner Sarah Jones understand that road work has to be done. But they both question the length of time it has taken so far, and especially the condition of the road while they wait for completion.

“People have been complaining, bigger groups that come in, they're just like ‘I couldn't find a place to park, I couldn't even get down the road at some point.’ It's impossible to get through,” said Jones, co-owner of Game of Throws. “And we came in one time, and we couldn't even figure out where to turn around and go back the other way to go on the back roads to the back of the building. It's really frustrating. And they said they have six months to do it in. Why can't  they do it in one month, or this is going to take up to six months? Our whole busiest season is the winter.”

Jones has observed work crews doing something one day, followed by three weeks of nothing. And when they have returned they “make it worse,” she said, and “dig a big hole.”

Paving the way
While Credi doesn’t want to be “that angry guy” who raises a fuss over this situation, he has felt pangs of anxiety and worry about how long he can sustain his business. He employs four people who only work for him. He doesn’t want to lay them off until conditions improve, and definitely doesn’t want to close his shop. He suspects that other areas of Batavia wouldn’t be dealing with this.

“Because I do often feel like, over on Harvester Avenue, we don't really get much attention. Obviously, we're off Main Street, so we don't get the main attraction,” Credi said. “But also in terms of the city's outlook, they really only seem to be concerned with the downtown district, understanding that's where the majority of the businesses are, that's where they get, you know, grants and funding for to improve.”

Credi appreciated the words of support from the three council members, and Schmidt’s comment that all businesses in the city should have equal importance, he said. He looks forward to the future development of Harvester Center and hopes that “we’ll still be around” when it gets going.

Tammy Hathaway, director of Batavia Development Corporation, enjoys spending time at the Center and drinking a Monica coffee at the Pub. She has tried to draw attention to the city’s eastern site through online postings, she said, and raise awareness of all that’s over there. The Center houses 75 businesses, including One World Projects, Vintage antiques, House of Bounce, The Brick Enrichment Center, Hodgin's Printing, Hitter's Hideaway, plus artists, a dental lab, environmental testing and several other ventures.

“I’ve been trying to really focus on the business piece of it; it’s one of my favorite spots,” she said Friday. “I’m trying to be a good steward for the businesses … giving every little bit of extra attention I can give. My biggest goal is to make people aware, and to say brave the storm and continue to visit those businesses.”

The Batavian asked if there was any type of financial recovery funding for the commerce lost so far, and didn’t believe there was anything available. Meanwhile, Credi will be playing “the numbers game,” he said, remaining open as long as he can cover payroll. When those numbers dip even lower, however, he’s not sure what he will do.

“I’m not the person who tries to complain, to make a big deal out of everything. But this project needs to be done,” he said, reflecting on how things had gone up to this summer. “It’s finally paying off, all the hard work, the business is thriving, we’re absolutely crushing it. I couldn't be happier. And I didn't expect the drop-off, obviously, once the construction came. We have established ourselves to what I believe is, you know, the pre-eminent independent shop in a town that's flooded with Dunkin Donuts, and Tim Hortons, and just another Starbucks coming, it's not easy. And I get why we're suffering because it's so much easier for all these customers to just hit up one of the other 10 coffee shops versus trying to navigate down Harvester Avenue.

“Traffic itself is almost nonexistent. We are getting primarily people from the building and our hardcore regulars. But honestly, what's carrying this right now, it’s just delivery. We do it through DoorDash … even before it was about 20 percent of our sales. Now, it's probably like closer to 25 to 30, which is great because it's bringing in revenue, but it also costs me a lot to pay their commissions to operate our delivery service,” he said. “Because we had such an amazing year up until that point, we've been able to kind of carry it through now. Right now we're not operating at a loss on a daily basis. If, in the next couple of weeks, we start to dip into the negatives, we're losing money … I’ll probably have to revisit what my plan is.”

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Top Photo: Rob Credi, owner of Pub Coffee Hub at The Harvester Center in Batavia, would like contractors to speed up progress on Harvester Avenue, as construction so far has damaged his sales and related revenue; and above, a ditch in front of the auxiliary parking lot, rendering it useless for potential customers; and ongoing construction. Photos by Howard Owens.

October 1, 2022 - 12:08am
posted by Press Release in farm labor, agriculture, business.

Press release:

New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) Commissioner Roberta Reardon today issued an order accepting the recommendation of the Farm Laborers Wage Board to lower the current 60-hour threshold for overtime pay to 40 hours per week by January 1, 2032, allowing 10 years to phase in the new threshold. The Board included its recommendation in a report that the Board voted to advance to the Commissioner during its final meeting on September 6, 2022, following a two-year process and 14 public meetings and hearings. Following a rulemaking process to enact the Commissioner's Order, farm work in excess of 40 hours per week would be required to be compensated at overtime rates, as it is in other occupations.

“I thank the Farm Laborers Wage Board and all New Yorkers who provided insight and input during this inclusive process,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I come from a farm community myself, so I know how important the agricultural sector is to the New York State economy. Based on the findings, I feel the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendations are the best path forward to ensure equity for farm workers and success for agricultural businesses.”

Beginning in 2020, the Board held public hearings to gather testimony from farm owners, workers, advocacy groups, and academic researchers. Recordings of these hearings and additional materials are available on the NYSDOL’s Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage. The report released on September 6 documents and summarizes the Board’s process and its findings. The Board was convened pursuant to the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act passed by the New York State Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2019.

The Board’s report recommended that the reduction in overtime hours take place by reducing the overtime work limit by 4 hours every other year beginning in 2024 until reaching 40 hours in 2032, giving agriculture businesses proper time to adjust.

During the course of the Board's deliberations in 2022, the Governor and Legislature enacted three new tax credits to assist farm employers in transitioning to a lower overtime standard.  

  • The Investment Tax Credit was increased from 4 percent to 20 percent for farm businesses, providing an encouragement for potential automation of farm production.
  • The Farm Workforce Retention Tax Credit was increased to $1,200 per employee to provide near-term relief to farmers.
  • Most importantly, a new refundable overtime tax credit was established for overtime hours paid by farm employers at the level established by the Board and confirmed by the Commissioner up to 60 hours.

The Board noted that these actions by the Governor and Legislature were supportive of food production and provided a means for farms to transition to a lower overtime standard.

NYSDOL will now be undergoing a rule-making process which will include a 60-day public comment period.  Further details about the rulemaking process will be posted on the NYSDOL’s Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage.

More information on the Farm Laborers Wage Board process and next steps can be found on NYSDOL’s Farm Laborers Wage Board webpage.

October 1, 2022 - 12:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sunset, news.

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Submitted by Paul Nichiporuk. Taken on Clinton Street Road

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Submitted by Joanne Meiser

September 30, 2022 - 11:28pm
posted by Press Release in Salvation Army.

Press release:

In response to many calls from the community The Salvation Army in Batavia would like to inform you that they are on the ground in Florida in response to the devastation left behind by Hurricane Ian. Teams are already in place providing food, water, emotional/spiritual support and clean up supplies. It is too soon to begin sending any clothing, bedding or household items. The infrastructure in the area is not able to handle the influx of material items at this point. The best way to help is through monetary assistance. If you are able and would like to support the relief efforts of The Salvation Army you may do so by sending a check made payable to The Salvation Army at 529 East Main Street, Batavia NY 14020. Write “Hurricane Relief” in the memo line. All money donated will go directly to the relief efforts.

September 30, 2022 - 10:15pm
posted by Press Release in news, batavia, Water Quality.

Press Release

The City of Batavia Water Department would like to inform residents to be on the lookout for a lead-related service flyer in the mail along with their water bill.  In accordance with the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule Revision, the City must develop an inventory of the material of both the public and private portions of each service line in the City’s water system.

The City wishes to reassure its residents that the water is safe to drink.  An effective corrosion control procedure is used to reduce the possibility of lead existence in City water.  Regular testing yields levels that are consistently lower than the EPA action threshold for lead. 

Residents’ participation in developing this inventory is greatly appreciated.

A copy of the flyer can be found on the City of Batavia’s website 

                                                                                

 

September 30, 2022 - 10:11pm
posted by Press Release in news, City fire department, batavia.

Press Release

The City of Batavia Fire Department will be flushing / testing fire hydrants on Monday and Tuesday 10/3 10/4 from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the general area of North of Main Street and East of Bank Street.

Homes and businesses nearby will be affected. These tests may result in a temporary discoloration of water in that area. As in the past, please do not attempt to wash any clothing if your water appears discolored. If you do experience a discoloration of your water, run cold water for about 5 minutes or until clear.

This annual testing is essential to maintain the communities class III Insurance Services Office (ISO) public
protection classification, and to assure that fire hydrants are operating efficiently for fire protection purposes.

Along with maintaining the fire rating, the test monitors the health of the city's water system, identifies weak areas in the system, and removes material that settle in the water lines. Checking each hydrant improves fire department personnel knowledge of the hydrant locations.

If you have any questions, or should notice a hydrant in need of repair, please contact the fire department at 585-345-6375.

September 30, 2022 - 7:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Indian Reservation, news, crime, Alabama, Basom, notify.

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Not too many criminal defendants have good things to say about the prosecutors who came down on them hard and recommended they be locked away for as long as possible. 

Isaac D. Abrams has only good things to say about Melissa Lightcap Cianfrini.

"She isn't God but she's right up next to him," Abrams said Thursday from inside a smokeshop he's opening on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. "She's up there. She's a force to be reckoned with. Don't (expletive) with her."

Cianfrini was the first assistant district attorney in early 2018 when Abrams was sent to prison as a 17-year-old for one-and-a-third to four years for making terroristic threats. That conviction has now been expunged, but Abrams had a track record at the time, as Cianfrini noted back then, that indicated he was a young man out of control.

In arguing against any kind of leniency for Abrams, Cianfrini told then County Court Judge Charles Zambito that Abrams had engaged in increasingly violent acts, shown a disregard for authority and human life, and violated his release under supervision contract numerous times.

"He's a high risk to the community," said Cianfrini, who is now the County Court judge. "Look at his statements. He seriously minimizes his conduct. He said that he gave people something to talk about at dinner. This is not somebody expressing remorse."

Abrams said he has no bitterness toward Cianfrini.  She was doing her job, and in doing her job, she put him in a position that forced him to look at the world differently.

"What she put me through," he said, "I honestly feel that if I hadn't gone through that, I would still be a bad little shit just like everybody else. I had an eye-opener. She gave me an eye-opener."

And life in prison isn't something he wants to repeat.

"I went through horrible experiences," Abrams said. "I have scars on my eyebrows now that are permanent. I have stab wounds on my back and on my shoulders. I went from prison to prison. It was a horrible, horrible experience."

Not that getting his life straightened out has been easy for Abrams.  He's had setbacks. He's made mistakes. He's had people set up roadblocks. But he says he's determined to be a successful businessman, to become wealthy, and at age 22, to be an example for younger kids on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation that success is possible and you can overcome life's errors.

He was in court on Wednesday, standing before Cianfrini on an attempted burglary conviction, prepared for the worst because of one of the mistakes he's made while on his path toward redemption (he carried to court a plastic grocery bag filled with toiletries and personal items in case he was sent back to prison).

The possibility of going back to prison
In August, Abrams admitted to attempted burglary in the second degree. The incident involved Abrams entering the residence of a man identified as his mother's boyfriend on Dec. 29 after the boyfriend reportedly abused her.

First Assistant District Attorney Joseph Robinson, on Wednesday, was just as certain as Cianfrini was in 2018, that Abrams deserved no leniency in sentencing.

The 2018 felony conviction was off limits for Robinson to cite since the record is sealed, but Robinson had plenty of material to draw from to try and make the case that Abrams deserved prison time.  He said Abrams has a history of misconduct going back to high school, that he had violated terms of a conditional discharge on another conviction, and that he had faced a criminal contempt charge in Erie County.

"Mr. Abrams is not a good fit for a community-based, probationary sentence," Robinson told Cianfrini. "He enters the house of another person and then strikes the victim and claims it was in defense of his mother because of prior abuse. He took the action of judge, jury and executioner. That is not the way society works."

Robinson recommended four years in prison (the statutory range on the conviction is 2-7 years) and three years post-release supervision (parole).

Defense Attorney Fred Rarick offered a very different take on his client's prospects for complying with the terms of a probationary sentence. He noted that Abrams has been in full compliance with the terms of his release-under-supervision contract while awaiting sentencing, that his client had been diagnosed with mental health issues that had never been treated, and that his client understands that he mishandled the situation in December that led to his arrest.

Rarick said his client's relationship with his father is non-existent, and when mental health treatment was recommended for Abrams as a teenager, his mother decided the trip to counseling was too far to drive, so Abrams never got the help he needed.

He said Abrams had previously witnessed his mother being abused and on the night of this incident, his mother, instead of calling the police, called her son to say she had been abused. Rarick suggested that she knew her son, who has anger management issues, would take matters into his own hands.

She should have called the police, Rarick said.

But once she called Abrams, the young man should have called police, he said.

Sending Abrams to prison, Rarick said, would disrupt the positive path the young man has been on -- a year ago, he opened a small smoke shop on the reservation and was getting ready to open a second.

When it was his turn to talk, Abrams told Cianfrini, "when I first met you, I didn't really like you. But then I went to prison and I realized you did a lot for me. You changed me. You changed the way I talk. You changed the way I walk." 

He said he wanted to lead the younger generation on the reservation out of trouble.

"I'm a changed man from when you first met me," he said.

He said he felt like he had let her down and that he understood if she was disappointed in him.

"I promise I will never be in a situation like this again," Abrams said.  "If something like this happens again, I'm calling 9-1-1.  I promise."

Call 9-1-1
That promise was put to the test on Thursday night.

On Thursday afternoon, a new pre-built building was delivered to 368 Martin Road in Basom, the site of Abram's new smokeshop and dispensary.

Shortly after he opened the doors for the first time, he met with The Batavian and discussed his future plans.

That night, at about 10:45 p.m., the Alabama Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to 368 Martin Road.  The Batavian sent a text message to Abrams, who responded that he had already been told of the fire by a family member, was on his way to the shop, and that he had called the police to report the crime.

As he promised Cianfrini, rather than get mad, he called 9-1-1.

The fire burned itself out before fire crews arrived on scene.  The fire was intentionally set, a fire investigator said, at the base of the building by the front door.  It caused some minor heat damage to the metal plates at the base of the door.  A Sheriff's deputy opened a criminal investigation.

Earlier in the day, Abrams said that many people on the reservation encourage him and are happy to see him turning his life around.  Others, he said, want to pull him back down.

When asked why he thought anybody would try to torch his new building, he said, "jealousy."

"This would  be the bad crowd," he said, "like the alcoholics, the drunks, the ones who like to stay out all night."

Rather than prison, an opportunity
Earlier in the day, Abrams was full of enthusiasm for his new business.

With only a few cartons of cigarettes and some jars of marijuana in the new building, Abrams said it was just a start.  He is funding the venture with profits from the Weeping Willow, his first smokeshop on Purdy Road.  

On his small plot of land, Abrams cleared trees and put down gravel.  As a reporter looked on, the excited young man paced off his expansion plans -- where the handicap-accessible ramp will go, leading to double doors and windows, and shelves filled with product.  Abrams sees it all in his mind.

"My dreams are progressing every day as every day I’m one step farther into becoming a new man, a man in new business and a man of new character," Abrams said. "My dreams and goals for the shop are just to succeed in an all-around aspect so I can help my customers, friends, and family succeed around me, too. I really would like for the business to succeed. It took a lot of community members to get this far, and a lot of trust, so there’s no going back now all I can say now is 'Hi. My name is Isaac Abrams. How may I help you and be at your service.'"

The fire, he said later, was a momentary setback, but just financially, not "mentally or spiritually, and tomorrow is a new day with lots of potential."

Abrams is getting the chance to pursue his dreams because the person who took a dim view of the young man's future in 2018 is now persuaded that he deserves a shot at building something better for himself.

On Wednesday, after Robinson, Rarick, and Abrams all spoke, Judge Cianfrini said she needed a few minutes to research something and adjourned the court.

When she returned from chambers, she asked Abrams whether, if given the opportunity to go through Mental Health Court -- which would mean no prison time if he successfully completes the program -- would he commit himself to follow through and do what he needed to do.

A beaming Abrams said he would. He turned around so he was speaking to the whole court and said, "if anybody was here and saw me here before, I'm a changed man.  I promise you I'm not the same person you saw here before."

Cianfrini explained that Abrams will be screened for Mental Health Court to ensure he's a good candidate for the program, and once the screening is done, she can place him in the program.

Embracing what Abrams said about being an example to younger people on the reservation, she told him he had a chance to show a younger generation that the justice system is a place to "get help and rehabilitation and that it's not just for punishment."

Robinson told Cianfrini that he wanted to place on the record his objection to giving Abrams an opportunity to go to Mental Health Court.

Inside his new shop on Thursday, Abrams was nothing but grateful to Cianfrini.

"She honestly changed my life around.  I thank her for helping me. She did a lot.  Honestly, I wouldn't be here in these shoes.  I wouldn't be free today," he said. "I wouldn't be thinking clearly. I would have done none of that. I would have nothing.  I'd probably still be that broken little shit."

Photos by Howard Owens. Top photo, Isaac Abrams outside his new smokeshop.  Inset photo, file photo of Melissa Cianfrini in 2018 at a press conference on an unrelated case.

September 30, 2022 - 7:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

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The police have the gun.  They have a man in custody who was located in the area of the gun. 

He's a man who apparently ran from Sgt. Dan Coffey on Evans Street to Court Street after Coffey and other officers responded to a report of shots fired.

Everything else is a mystery.

"We got the gun. We've got the guy. Now we've got to work backward," Coffey said Friday evening while on Court Street.

As for the report of shots fired, Coffey said there is no specific location associated with the shots based on reports received by police.

It's unclear at this early stage of the investigation, Coffey said, if the man taken into custody will be charged with any crime.  The police are still gathering evidence.

Coffey chased the man from Evans to Court, where he was tackled and taken into custody.  Additional officers arrived on scene, including deputies and troopers, and they commenced a search of the area to try and locate a gun that may have been on the man.  

City Fire was requested to assist with ladders so that police officers could climb onto nearby rooftops to look for a possible gun.

An object believed to be a gun was located under a bush between the Key Bank ATM drive-thu and M&T Bank.  The object was left in place while officers waited for detectives to arrive on the scene.

Coffey said more information will be released when it is available.

Photos by Howard Owens

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September 30, 2022 - 2:54pm

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Developing an effective promotion and marketing strategy at Batavia Downs Gaming sounds like a challenging assignment. Marketing Director Ryan Hasenauer and his staff, however, have been equal to the task as revenues for the gaming/harness horse racing facility and hotel on Park Road continue to surge.

The Batavian sat down with Hasenauer (photo at top, pointing to "wall of fame" at the Batavia Downs clubhouse) to talk about his team’s efforts to increase the customer base at the entertainment venue operated by Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., a public benefit company that distributes a portion of earnings plus surcharge to its 17 member municipalities.

Hasenauer, 41, is a Rochester native who earned his bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and Master of Business Administration from Medaille College (now University) in Buffalo before taking marketing positions with a software company and tanning salon chain.

He joined the marketing department at Batavia Downs in 2007, serving as director of marketing since October 2010. He and his wife, Elise, and their 7-year-old son, Theo, live in Hamburg.

Q. What is the overarching strategy when it comes to promotions? Your board of directors just authorized an expenditure of $600,000 for promotional items for the year – that’s a huge amount of money.

A. You’ve got to spend money to make money – that’s like one of the oldest adages in the book. What we do here at Batavia Downs is we implement two types of strategy – whether it’s horse racing, gaming, for the restaurants, the hotel. All those things basically work together as amenities for each other to basically accomplish two goals. One, attract new people to the facility and two, retain the people that we already have that enjoy coming here. And of course, if you're new, then you become an existing person. So, now I'm working hard to maintain your loyalty.

Q. It seems as though it is a very competitive industry?

A. The gaming landscape in Western New York is quite saturated. You've got one just south of Rochester, you've got one between Rochester and Syracuse, you've got several pinpointed around the Syracuse area and towards Utica, you've got one in Buffalo, we've got one in the Falls, you got one down to Alleghany and even got a few across the way just across the border into Canada now that Canada's opened up again. So, we have to be smart about our strategies because we are one of the smallest gaming facilities in New York State.

Echoing what Henry (Wojtaszek, WROTB president) has said many times, we try to see ourselves as the “Cheers” of casinos – we know your name. You can be a big fish in a small pond here. When you go to some of these other larger facilities, you're just a number to them. To reap some of the things you might want to get from a gaming facility, you have to be a very, very big player in those places to be even considered to get invites for a dinner tickets to a show on site or to a game, like the Buffalo Bills or whatever. Whereas here, we feel like we have a better relationship with our players. We know their names, we know their likes, their dislikes and you can still have access to some of those great things.

Q. What are some of the promotions that Batavia Downs offers?

A. If you're in the email club, for some of the concerts, you got an email for free tickets to our shows outside for our drawings on Wednesday nights. And on Friday nights. And coming in October, it'll be Tuesdays and Thursday nights. You can win tickets, whether you're a great player or not a great player. You can win tickets to see the Buffalo hockey team to see the Buffalo football team or the Rochester hockey team. The other places aren't doing drawings with their tickets; they're holding them back and only giving them to certain people. And while we do honor and give some of our higher-end players tickets, everyone has a chance with these drawings.

One of the other great things about doing that is that it drives traffic to the facility. It makes the facility busy because you’re here trying to win tickets to this real big country show that's coming to the facility. You know, when we gave away Garth Brooks tickets, this place was nuts. We gave away two pairs of Garth Brooks tickets on the floor. It was crazy here that night; people were excited to win those tickets. And they went to players that randomly were chosen in the game, which is exciting.

Q. Are you also in charge of lining up events such as dinners, fundraisers or weddings?

A. We have an amazing event staff headed up by Tory (Thompson) and we work together so much it’s like the other side of my brain. And Tory feels the same way about marketing here. People wanting an event here such as a fundraiser or big dinner are going to deal with Tory and she’s going to do right by you.

And we will work with you to help promote your event. I don't know many places that will literally say we will help you promote the event on our Facebook page, with ads in the local media. We take an extra step in making sure that if your event is a public event, we want you to succeed because what do we want? We want people here. It’s only smart for us to that.

Q. What about the concerts in the summer? Who coordinates that?

A. Things like the Vodka (& Gin) Fest, the Polka Fest, the Kentucky Derby party, all the concerts – those are things that the marketing team handles. The concerts are a total team effort, including the officers, where we get together to decide who's coming and what's going to go on, and what dates are they going to select?

That’s another thing that helps not only drive traffic to the facility, but provides entertainment for the people in Batavia and the surrounding areas. I remember, we had Three Dog Night come here and there was probably 6,000 to 7,000 people …singing along to all those old favorites.

Q. You’ve done a lot of renovation to the (racing) clubhouse.  What has been done there and how are you utilizing it?

A. So, the interesting thing about the clubhouse is that this place was built in 1940s; we opened on Sept. 20, 1940.  At that time, the clubhouse was like the crown jewel of this place, and over the years, it was a great place for people to come and watch the races.

There’s no mistake about it that horse racing is not as popular as it once was. We all get that; we understand that. There are not a lot of places across Western New York, first of all, but certainly across the United States that are actively trying to put money into horse racing spaces where people can enjoy watching horse racing. We put in money into that clubhouse. We put the “wall of fame” up there -- our history, from the 1940s all the way through present day and you could walk up and see it anytime you want.

We raised up the bar from the ground floor to beyond that level and made it so was a more welcoming experience for those who have movement disabilities. That was one thing that many people like to mention was that the buffet was on the top and you had to traverse those stairs. Now the buffet’s on the ground level. And if you have mobility issues, you don't have to worry about the stairs anymore. You go right to the buffet and find a seat where there's no going upstairs and you still have a seat on the window. You still have a great seat to see the horse racing.

Q. Judging by recent events in the clubhouse not related to horse racing, that must be a new wrinkle to your marketing strategy?

A. Because that clubhouse is only open, let's say between 50 and 70 days a year for horse racing, what are we going to do the other 300 days plus? While we do comedy shows there, we also utilize that space for nonpublic events. If somebody needs to utilize that space for a meeting, it’s available. We had Chamber (of Commerce) After Dark and the Zonta Club’s basket raffle. So again, utilizing the spaces that we have here to allow people to have meetings. We had a large meeting inside Park Place and events are scheduled throughout the week, not just on weekends.

Q. On the subject of horse racing, how much has that industry declined since its heyday? And how do you accommodate patrons that follow and wager on horse racing? Are they getting the short end of the stick, so to speak?

A. On the first question, I would have to take a look at the numbers to give you an accurate number. I know that during COVID, horse racing was one of the only things going on. We had that kind of artificial spike that happened in 2020 and in parts of 2021 where it was like, “Well, I can't go anywhere, but they're doing virtual horse racing someplace, I can make a wager on Batavia bets and I can do those things.”

I think what we are doing here at Batavia Downs to make sure that the horse players know that they're not forgotten about is making sure that they still have spaces to conduct that type of entertainment. Putting money in the clubhouse, making sure that that the ITW (Intertrack Wagering) is upstairs across the clubhouse on the second floor here at Batavia Downs. That space was put in when the gaming floor went downstairs, That's a very nice place for people to watch. There's nice chairs, there's ample space, there's vending machines nearby or if you want to go eat, you just go down the elevator, and there’s Fortune’s Restaurant.

(Hasenauer said Homestretch Grill, a smaller sandwich/pizza shop on the first floor is being remodeled and not open yet).

Q. So do you have any specials for the horse players because they're maybe not spending a lot of money on the gaming floor?

A. We’ve come to an agreement with the horsemen’s association to add 15 racing dates in January and February of next year, with racing on Wednesdays and Saturdays and some select Fridays thrown in there as well. We’re going to work to make sure the Homestretch Grill is open to satisfy those patrons and making sure they’re in a clean, comfortable environment.

Promotions include our magnet schedules, T-shirt toss after each race where the winning driver throws T-shirts onto the track apron for those in attendance. Free parking and admission, blanket giveaways. And we’re working with Don (Hoover, director of live racing) on things to make sure that people understand we’re not forgetting about horse racing. A lot of other casinos with racetracks have forgotten about horse racing.

You come here and buy a program, and if you go and earn a point on the gaming floor, we'll give you $5 on the gaming floor. And the program costs two bucks. So, if you're going to gamble anyway on the gaming floor, come and buy a program, earn your point, and then you've got a little bit of money for the gaming floor, too. We're doing things that are tying our racing and our gaming together. That's not something you're seeing at a lot of other places.

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The renovated bar at the Batavia Downs Gaming clubhouse. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

September 30, 2022 - 8:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.
Video Sponsor

Shortly after 8 p.m on Thursday night, a car that had been southbound on Jackson Street struck a fire hydrant on Chestnut Street, in the City of Batavia.

A reader submitted a video of the collision.

The reader believes police officers located the vehicle a short time later on South Jackson.  

We have no information from Batavia PD yet on the case.

September 30, 2022 - 8:53am


OPEN HOUSE THIS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1ST, 11AM - 1PM. 6873 Norton Road, Elba.  ​Truly a country classic Homestead on picturesque 5 acre lot! This home offers everything that most people try to recreate – large room sizes, tall ceilings, wide planked wood flooring, HOMINESS and good country livin'! There is first floor bedroom with full modernized bath and upstairs has 4 large bedrooms and newly added second full bath. Country kitchen has tons of cupboards, large dining area that is the heart and center of this home, oversized back entrance/mudroom and laundry area(every home needs!) All Bedrooms are large and offer a lot of storage/closet space and two staircases will get you where you need to go in this almost 2200 sq ft home! Let's not forget to mention this home is all mechanically up to date including newer windows, metal roof and new septic installed 2019! The yard is something that most would not notice cruising by but is absolutely beautiful with pretty views of farmland and gardens with pretty stone steps and garden pathways-all the hard work has already been done for you AND you can sit on one of 3 different porches to enjoy it all! Last but not least don't forget about the gorgeous big red barn! Make sure to tell your country loving friends about this one! Call Reliat Real Estate today 585-344-HOME (4663).

September 30, 2022 - 8:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once registered you must sign in using the "sign-in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Sign-in issues? First, make sure you are registered for Day using the link at the top of this post; Second, if you know you're registered, use the "sign-in" link in this post; do not use the "login" box on the left side of the page.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Lisa Ace:   [email protected]
September 29, 2022 - 10:20pm
posted by Press Release in spiritual connections, religion, news.

Arbor House, 350 Bank St., Batavia. We are a community of believers and disciples of Jesus Christ. Arbor House was founded to be a place of safety, refreshment, and renewal for all. Each week we gather to hear the spoken Word, eat from the Lord’s Table, and enjoy fellowship with all who come. If you have been hurt by a church before we want to be the place where you can find healing and hope. All are welcome! Service will be in person on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. and available live stream on Facebook. (350 Bank Street Road, Batavia, NY) For more information about Arbor House visit arborhousefmc.com.

Ascension Parish -- Roman Catholic Community, Batavia. We are open for Mass in the Church on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 10 a.m. Daily Mass Mondays at 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall. Confession time is Saturdays from 3:15 to 3:45 p.m. in Church. Please join us for our Sunday streaming Mass online at 10 a.m. We invite everyone to join us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ascensionromancatholiccommunity. Please follow us on Facebook for any Mass time changes. Our webpage: www.ascensionrcc.com.

Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia, invites you to join us for in-person worship on Sundays at 9 a.m. (Arise-relaxed with band music) or 10:45 a.m. (Sanctuary -liturgical and organ) or on Livestream via Facebook Live for both times at: https://fpcbatavia.org/  or https://www.facebook.com/fpcbatavia/videos/

Batavia First United Methodist Church, 8221 Lewiston Road, Batavia. Our mission & vision statement:  “To be disciples we must listen, learn, lead and love our way to God.”  Reverend Wayne Mort leads our worship service every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. in the church sanctuary. You can also find the service on Facebook.  And we invite you to learn more about Batavia First UMC by visiting our website at www.BataviaFirstumc.com.

Byron Presbyterian Church, 6293 W. Main St., Byron. Sunday Service begins at 9:45 a.m. Kim Dewey, Clerk of Session. Laurence Tallman, Music Director Oct. 2, Celebrate World Wide Communion – service led by Rev. Laurel Nelson (585) 548-2800[email protected]

City Church, 210 E. Main St., Batavia, is open for Sunday morning services at 8:30 and 10, and Thursday evenings at 7 o'clock. Everyone is welcome to join us for worship and a message. We also have a noontime Sunday service at our St. Anthony's location at 114 Liberty St. in Batavia. You can also connect with us online, through our Facebook page, or our YouTube channel.

Cornerstone Church of East Pembroke, part of American Baptist Churches USA, 2583 Main Road, East Pembroke. Our Sunday service is at 10:30 a.m. with Pastor Glenn Bloom preaching. Bible Study is every Wednesday at 10 a.m. We are a small church and welcome new members; we are following social distancing rules and masks must be worn. (585) 762-8721

East Bethany Presbyterian Church, 5735 Ellicott Street Road, East Bethany. Our Sunday morning worship service is held at 10:30 a.m. and led by Rev. Dr. Shiela McCullough. Visitors are always welcome. You can find out more information on our Facebook page or by emailing us at [email protected].

Emmanuel Baptist Church, 190 Oak St., Batavia. Join us for services in person or livestreamed via Facebook and EBCBatavia.com. Be part of the family today and join in the blessings of Jesus in your life!

EverPresent Church, 4 Batavia City Centre, Batavia. Come visit us for our upcoming events. Be our Guest on Sundays for Worship and the Word at 10:30 a.m. Children are dismissed after the second worship song to a morning filled with lessons, laughs, learning, play, and a craft. Doors open at 10 a.m. Check out the website for more information on EverPresent. We are hosting a Rummage Sale on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 9 a.m. If you would like to DONATE some goods for us to sell at this event, please call (585) 250-4400 (we accept gently used items, and all items must be in working condition). All proceeds are going toward our building fund for the renovation of our HVAC and exterior work. Don't forget our women's meeting on Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guest Speakers are Mary Woods, Karen Vanyggarden, and Pastor Michelle Norton. More information to come along with registration on our website. We look forward to seeing you soon.

First Baptist Church in Batavia, 306 E. Main St., Pastor David Weidman, where "Christ the Center, Love for All" is very evident to all who enter. We invite you to our Full Gospel Sunday services at 10 a.m.; prayer and Bible study on Wednesdays from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.; Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., please come and browse in our beautifully renovated "Thrift Shoppe." You'll find many bargains, including $2, $6, and $10 bags sales on all unmarked clothing. You can also enjoy a light lunch at Lydia's Kitchen while you shop. Questions? Email:  [email protected]. Call us at (585) 343-9002.

First Baptist Church Elba, 31 S. Main St., Elba, is open for the main service in person at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays. For more information about our church go to www.fbcelba.net. The pastor is Michael Davis. Email: [email protected] / Phone (585) 757-2722

First Presbyterian Church of Byron, 6293 W. Main St., Byron. Two worship experiences are offered each Sunday: 9:45 a.m. in person in the church sanctuary, with appropriate safety protocols, and 11:15 a.m. -- a Zoom-only service. Please call the church office to obtain Zoom access codes, 585-2800

Grace Baptist Church, 238 Vine St., Batavia. The Morning Worship Service begins at 9:30 a.m with our new series in Philippians, “No Matter What”. Our fall kids programs are: Nursery & Grace Kids for ages 2 through grade – 5 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. KidZone Kids are for grades 1st through grade 5 on Sunday evenings from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Grace Student Ministries (Grades 6-12) Sunday Evening at 6 to 7:30 p.m. Let’s Get Acquainted begins as well at 6 p.m. If you are unable to join us in person for worship, the service is live-streamed at www.gracebatavia.org. or view it on our Facebook page: Grace Baptist.

Indian Falls Methodist Church, 7908 Alleghany Road, Corfu. Reverend Karen McCaffery will hold a Worship Service inside the church sanctuary at 10 a.m. Sundays. Or join our service via Facebook Live or on YouTube by searching for IFUMC TechTeam. Weekly Online Bible Study and Prayer Services are held on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live on “Pastor McCaffery's” page.

Morganville United Church of Christ, 8466 Morganville Stafford. We’d love to meet you!  Please join us and our "God is still speaking" church at 10 a.m. Sunday as Reverend James Morasco shares some inspiring words for the week.  The Sacrament of Holy Communion will be shared. Please bring canned goods to share with the LeRoy Food Pantry. Our church is located at 8466 Morganville Road.  Friend us on Facebook! and visit us any Sunday!

North Bergen Presbyterian Church, 7068 N. Bergen Road, Bergen, is open for in-person services at 10 a.m. Sundays. The phone is (585) 494-1255.

North Darien Bible Church, 9768 Simonds Road, Corfu. We are open! Sunday worship service begins at 10 a.m. Children's Church classes are available for children ages birth through sixth grade, including a classroom for children with special needs. For more information, visit our website. You can also watch LIVE on our Facebook or YouTube channel. Join us from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of every month for our free community closet, full of clothing, coats, and shoes for all. (585) 547-9646.

Northgate Free Methodist Church, 8160 Bank Street Road (North Campus), Batavia. Over the last few years, it feels like more and more topics have become things we don’t talk about. Politics, abortion, sexuality, and more. Emotions get high, feelings are hurt, and relationships can be damaged. But sometimes we have to talk about difficult subjects, especially when we are trying to understand what the Bible teaches us about them. Join us for our upcoming series “Hard to Say” as we look at Things You Don’t Talk About At Church. Join us Saturday at 6 p.m., and Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11 a.m., 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia. For more information about Northgate Free Methodist Church and to watch our services online go to northgatefmc.com or facebook.com/northgatefmc

Oakfield-Alabama Baptist Church, 2210 Judge Road, South Alabama. On Sundays, Bible School for all ages at 9:45 a.m. & Worship at 11. Men's Bible Study meets weekly on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. Email:  [email protected] or call the church office at (585) 948-9401.

Our Lady of Mercy & St. Brigid parishes, Lake Street, Le Roy. All Masses are livestreamed Saturday at 4:30 p.m.; Sunday mornings at 7:15 & 9 & 10:45. Daily Masses are livestreamed at 7:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. Saturday. View on YouTube and Facebook. Visit Fr. Matthew’s parish website.

Resurrection Parish (St. Mary and St. Joseph churches in Batavia). Services livestreaming at 5:30 p.m. every Saturday from St. Mary's Church via Facebook, or view the livestreaming Mass on YouTube by searching for Resurrection RC Parish or visit the parish website. In-person Masses are 4 p.m. Saturday and at 11:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church; and at St. Mary's Church at 7:30 and 9:15 a.m. Sunday.

St. James Episcopal Church, 405 E. Main St., Batavia. Join us on Sundays at 9 a.m. on zoom, 10 a.m. in the church building, and on Facebook Live. Links and the bulletin can be found on our website: https://www.sjecbataviany.org/

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1 E. Main St., Le Roy, is open for in-person services at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Communion will be offered to people in their seats and will only include bread. We welcome you to join us -- either in person or online. For more information, visit our website.

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 18 W. Main St., Corfu. Weekend Masses are celebrated: Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 8:30 a.m. at the Corfu Church Site; and at 11 a.m. Sunday at the East Pembroke Church site, 8656 Church St., East Pembroke. Weekday Masses are celebrated on: Monday and Friday at 8 a.m. in Corfu, and Thursday at 8 a.m. in East Pembroke; on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Corfu followed by Adoration. Corfu Masses are also available for viewing on our YouTube channel. All information is on the church website and on Facebook. Email:  [email protected] (585) 599-4833

St. Padre Pio Parish, 56 Maple Ave., Oakfield. Weekend Masses are celebrated: Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Sunday at 8 a.m., and at 10 a.m. in the Oakfield Church Site, 56 Maple Ave., Oakfield. Weekday Masses are celebrated Monday 6 p.m. in Elba (Our Lady of Fatima Church, 65 S. Main St.); Tuesday at 8 a.m. in Elba; Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Oakfield; Thursday at 8 a.m. in Oakfield; Friday at 8 a.m. in Oakfield.

St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 6188 Main Road, Stafford. In-person service, including Holy Communion, is at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings. All  Are Welcome. 

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Batavia - This coming Sunday we will celebrate the 17th Sunday After Pentecost.  The sermon titled: “O Lord, Help My Unbelief?”  is based on the scriptures from Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4. Adult Bible Class Sunday at 8:30 a.m. with a new "Verse on Verse Bible Study on Revelations" Our service begins at 10 a.m. or can be viewed 'live' on Facebook. Our Youth class meets at 9:30 a.m. Sunday School children will attend the service through the children's sermon and will then go to their Sunday school rooms for their studies. Communion is part of the service on the 2nd and 4th Sundays.  God continues to bless us richly as we focus on Him and His plans for our congregation and community.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 75 Main St. in Attica, worships at 10:45 a.m. on Sundays, and Darien United Methodist Church, 1951 Broadway (Route 20), Darien Center, worships at 9 a.m. on Sundays. For the Zoom connection, email [email protected] and request the link(s). Prayer requests may be left at Trinity's voicemail (585) 591-1549 or with Pastor Pam at (716) 560-0290.

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"Spiritual Connections" -- The Batavian will post updates to connect people with their places of worship, religious services, fellowship opportunities, and/or spiritual advisors, etc. There is no charge for this service.

If you have information to announce, please email: [email protected]

September 29, 2022 - 10:14pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, covid-19 vaccine, news.

Press release:

Public health officials are encouraging eligible residents in the Finger Lakes region to get vaccinated with the updated booster shot against COVID-19. The CDC recently approved reformulated booster shots to further protect against the disease.

According to CDC guidelines, people ages 12 and older are now eligible to receive an updated booster two months after their last COVID-19 dose — either since their last booster shot or since completing their initial two vaccine doses.

  • Pfizer’s updated booster dose is recommended for individuals 12 and older.
  • Moderna’s updated booster dose is recommended for adults 18 and older.
  • Anyone can get either the Pfizer or Moderna booster, regardless of the manufacturer of their previous vaccines.

The CDC suggests that people who had COVID-19 recently may consider waiting three months from the start of their symptoms or a positive test before getting the updated booster shot.

Linda Clark, Chief Medical Officer at Common Ground Health, said, “With COVID-19 variants continuing to persist and with flu season approaching, it is important that people stay up to date with their vaccinations. Everyone who is eligible should get the updated booster this fall for maximum protection against the disease, and people can get the booster shot the same day as their flu shot.”

These new booster doses contain an updated bivalent formula that protects against the newer Omicron variants and against the original Coronavirus. The updated bivalent formula is not for initial vaccination; it is for use only for COVID-19 booster doses.

People who have questions about COVID-19 vaccines should talk to their physician or visit http://www.getyouranswers.org.

September 29, 2022 - 9:48pm
posted by Press Release in David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena, batavia, news.

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Press release:

The David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena is hosting an open house weekend this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The McCarthy Ice Arena welcomes the community back to the arena for another great year of winter sports.  Stop by the Evans Street arena and check out the recent improvements to the rink, enjoy discounted public events, cheer on area youth and adult hockey teams, and food specials at the newly opened snack shop.

EVENTS

  • $5 Hockey Skate & Shoot Friday 3p-5p
  • $5 Public Skate, free Rentals Friday 7p-9p
  • Batavia City Schools Public Skate Day Saturday 1p-3p (A portion of the proceeds go back to Batavia Community Schools)  $13 includes admission and Rentals
  • Family Skate Sunday - $25 for up to a family of 4, admission and rentals
  • $1 hotdogs at the snack shop all weekend

Friends of the Rink Scrap Metal Drive on Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Games

  • Ramparts 16U WNY - Saturday 6 p.m.
  • Ramparts 18U WNY - Saturday 7:40 p.m.
  • Ramparts 16U MOHL - Sunday 3:10 p.m.
  • BMHL - 4 games Sunday morning starting at 6:55 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.
September 29, 2022 - 9:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oktoberfest, batavia, Ascension Parish, news.

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Ascension Parish is ready for a party at its Social Center, 19 Sumner St., Batavia, on Saturday, headlined by The German American Musicians and beer.

It's Oktoberfest time.

The German American Musicians is a 25-member band founded in 1933.  It is a  not-for-profit cultural organization dedicated to the cultivation and performance of the traditional music and culture of German-speaking lands. 

Oktoberfest organizers said in a statement, "Our Oktoberfest creates an opportunity to gather as a community to listen to fine German music, to dance and sing, to eat and drink and appreciate one another."

The event is scheduled from 5 to 10 p.m.

For more information, visit www. ascensionoktoberfest.com

Photo of tents in place, ready for the celebration, by Howard Owens.

September 29, 2022 - 9:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, batavia.

Something new from the very musical Del Plato family, "Jamaica."  Written by John Del Plato. Performed by Anthony Del Plato.

September 29, 2022 - 9:13pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, jobs, notify, economics.

help_wanted.jpg

There’s a common presence at many businesses nowadays: help wanted postings.

A shortage of workers has enveloped most every business sector since the pandemic rubble landed, and many employers have been encountering stumbling blocks with filling vacancies ever since.

And it’s not just at restaurants and grocery stores, as the shortfall is also for county positions, law enforcement and school districts.

Few, but qualified
City of Batavia Police Department has been short-staffed due to vacancies, creating more overtime hours for full-time officers, Chief Shawn Heubusch said.

“This has caused the officers to work a lot of short-shift over time, therefore we have not been able to work as much of the OT associated with special details as we would like,” he said. “We have hired several qualified candidates that are working their way through academies or field training and will be able to fill vacancies on road patrol in the near future. This will allow us to get back to working more of the specialized details that we look forward to doing.”

He did note, however, that the department had “a significant drop in applicants” for the last exam.

“Roughly, the applicants were cut in half. It has been difficult recruiting in public safety, across the spectrum for a variety of reasons,” Heubusch said. “I will say that although the number of candidates has decreased, we have not seen a decrease in qualified candidates. In fact, I would say just the opposite. Given everything that has been going on in the nation, the current candidates are extremely dedicated to becoming law enforcement officers as demonstrated through the background and interview process. We have learned that these recruits have a very high drive to be police officers for the City of Batavia.”

That’s some good news. So how about Batavia City Schools, whose board just approved a long slate of teachers and teacher aide positions?

Creative recruiting
During her presentation at this week’s meeting, Trisha Finnigan, executive director of staff development & operations, outlined the ways in which the district is recruiting for and retaining qualified candidates. It’s not just about posting a position anymore. 

“So starting with recruitment, we've had to take a more creative approach in terms of recruiting exceptional staff to join the Blue Devils family. Instead of leaning on traditional methods, such as newspapers and our websites and our recruitment sites, for example, we've been using Indeed,” she said. “We’ve also noticed that when I was looking back at the past year, there seems to be a disconnect from when someone expresses interest in a position. Now we tell them, they, for example, have to complete a civil service application, as it seemed like that wouldn't happen. So when I looked back at that information, we decided that we would take a different approach.”

That approach involves not taking for granted that job applicants understand the steps required to apply, she said. Candidates are scheduled for an interview and given the Civil Service application for them to complete. The process has been refined, she said, to be more proactive about informing candidates about what’s next for them to do, such as getting fingerprinted or completing necessary paperwork.

“It's been awesome. We just now posted for substitute teacher aides and teachers and those are coming in. So I'm feeling positive about us having some people that could fill the need that last year we were lacking,” Finnigan said. “So we're moving in the right direction. It's my responsibility to make sure that I'm tapping into avenues where we're attracting exceptional candidates to come and work with us. And then how do we get that? Let me just see if I've missed anything here. One of the other things we did too, is that, in negotiating contracts with some of our units last year, we needed to do a better job of posting what the benefits of the positions were.

"So instead of, say, putting out teacher aide, just with a salary range, we made sure we included things like there is health insurance benefits, you can get paid for holidays, you can accrue vacation time," she said. "So those are some things when we're competing with other employers in the in the area, maybe offering a more an increase hourly wage, we can compete with some other things.”

Parents have been asking about jobs aligning with their schedules “to mirror the school calendar." That has meant more hiring of local residents, which has been nice, she said.

“Hiring is a very collaborative process. We work closely with the administrators, we’re looking at positions. Since July 1, we've hired over 35 personnel with New York State Certification, 16 new support team members, and that includes food service helpers, custodial support, as well as teacher aides,” she said. “And it should be noted that with that money we received for the preschool programs, that allowed us to add 10 positions, certificated positions … So that was something because we really did have to hustle.”

She had a quick turnaround of posting, hiring and getting those people trained for school opening in the second week of September. It worked out well, she said, and the district continues to reach out to colleges for candidates. In an effort not to “settle” for a lesser qualified candidate, the district has opted to plug in gaps with retired teachers until the best candidates are found.

She also spoke about retention: “it's one thing that we are getting people, it’s another to keep them."  And that depends on the tangible — contract terms — and the more subtle perks of a welcome package and surveys, she said.

“It’s a way of gauging their satisfaction and their perception of whether they feel valued as a Batavia Blue Devils family member,” she said. “And I also get interesting feedback on the interview process and other things that helped me plan better when we're looking for candidates.”

Resolving to address the issue
Earlier this year Genesee County Legislature agreed to waive all Civil Service fees to remove a potential barrier for applicants, and this week approved a resolution to extend the residency territory for corrections officer positions in hopes of gaining more interested candidates for openings.

Mental Health Department Director Lynda Battaglia previously spoke of the difficulty in filling four vacancies for wide-ranging clinical and finance positions to a psychiatrist role. The county has had trouble finding a full-time psychiatrist and revised the position to provide a hybrid of in-person and remote counseling services to better accommodate someone not able to be local on a full-time basis.

Many, but inexperienced
Although some employers are being more creative to attract job candidates, it may not be about the job at all. At least that’s what Chris Van Dusen of Empire Hemp Company has discovered. He and wife Shelly were at a recent job fair and did quite nicely, they said.

“We had over 300 applications,” Shelly said.

What they soon learned was that applicants weren’t so interested in the job as they were the product. And when that misunderstanding was cleared up (no, there’s no smoking marijuana on the job), the 300 potentials dropped to about three or four viable candidates, the couple said.

State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon visited Batavia Tuesday and acknowledged the lack of qualified candidates for some fields while she encouraged students to pursue education, training and labor skills to fill the many jobs available in manufacturing, food chain and other trades fields.

Maybe when all is said and done, it might just be that there aren’t the bodies out there to fill vacancies. According to the most recent state data, there were 30,500 Genesee County residents reported to be in the labor force, up from 29,400 a year ago. The state’s unemployment rate of 4.8 percent is a few points lower than 7.1 percent a year ago, and 900 people were listed as unemployed, compared to 1,300 a year ago.

Photo by Howard Owens.

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